Feeling overwhelmed with your HR workload? Ensuring that your must-have HR policies and procedures are in place can help streamline processes, increase productivity, and even relieve some stress!

There are several key documents that should be ready to go and on file; If you’re not sure what those documents are, or where to even start, the best approach is to identify the most essential ones and gradually build on them over time.

Key HR Policies All Companies Should Have in Place

If you’re not sure where to start with your HR policies and procedures, here are some ideas to help you get started on the essential policies and procedures to have on file. Based on your company’s unique needs and design, start with the top 3 and work your way to accomplishing the rest of them over time.

Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is a document that should serve as a comprehensive guide for employees regarding their rights, responsibilities, and expectations. The content you include in your employee handbook will vary depending on the size, industry, and specific policies of your company.

Aim to maintain an up-to-date employee handbook that includes policies and procedures related to various aspects of employment. This should include equal employment opportunity, anti-harassment, code of conduct, attendance, dress code, social media usage, and disciplinary procedures.

See 5 examples of Employee Handbooks here.

PTO (Paid Time Off) Policy

Every company should have a Paid Time Off (PTO) policy that clearly outlines if the employee has paid time off and how much time is allocated per year. Establish guidelines for employees to request and use their paid time off, including vacation, holidays, and personal days. Specify the process for requesting time off, notice periods, blackout dates, and any limitations on carryover or accumulation of unused PTO.

Observed Holiday Calendar
We also recommend having a calendar for observed company holidays. This shows employees which days they are entitled to have off during the year, if any, so they can plan time off accordingly. If you have employees working in multiple countries, holiday leave may look different for everyone, but be sure to communicate the company policy for that area to each employee.

Work From Home and Flexible Work Policies
As flexible working arrangements become more commonplace, and in fact, are often a key drawcard for attracting and retaining top talent, it’s important to have a solid flexible work policy and/or work-from-home policy in place. These policies can help everyone gain clarity about expectations in these areas. If you need either of these policies, you can find examples in the free HR templates here.

Leave of Absence Policies

Develop policies and procedures for various types of leaves of absence, such as family and medical leave, maternity/paternity leave, military leave, and other personal or statutory leaves. You should make sure to specify eligibility criteria, notice requirements, documentation required, and job protection provisions.

Performance Management Procedures and Guidelines

Develop a comprehensive performance management system that includes clear guidelines for setting performance goals, conducting regular performance evaluations, providing feedback, addressing performance issues, and implementing performance improvement plans.

With HR Partner, performance reviews and goals can be managed easily! See how you can integrate your performance management guidelines to tangible performance tools such as customized review forms, and flexible goal setting and tracking.

Attendance and Punctuality

Define expectations regarding employee attendance and punctuality, including work hours, break times, tardiness, and absenteeism. Specify how absences or lateness should be reported and how they will be recorded and addressed.

Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy

Establish a strong policy that promotes equal employment opportunity and prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected category. Include reporting procedures and guidelines for conducting investigations. This is a very important policy and should be among the first to be implemented if not done so already. Be sure to communicate anti-discrimination and harassment clearly during the onboarding process.

Confidentiality and Data Privacy

Define the expectations and obligations regarding the handling and protection of sensitive employee, customer and/or company information. Address confidentiality of employee records, personal data protection, and compliance with relevant privacy laws and regulations.

Non-Compete Agreement
For some companies, having a non-compete agreement in place can be a good idea. This aims to protect a company’s proprietary information, trade secrets, client relationships, and competitive advantage and will prevent employees from engaging in similar work or joining a competitor for a specified period of time after leaving the organization.

Employee Discipline and Termination

Although you might hope you’ll never need this, a Discipline and Termination policy should be one of your first policies to have in place. This document should outline the disciplinary process, including warnings, progressive discipline, and potential consequences for policy violations. You should also provide guidelines for termination procedures, including exit interviews, final paychecks, and returning company property. This will be very helpful for both you and the employee to reference during the offboarding process. Additionally, this policy may help with any legal action taken against your company for a situation such as accused wrongful termination.

Workplace Safety and Emergency Procedures

If applicable, establish policies related to workplace safety, accident reporting, emergency evacuation, first aid, and other health and safety regulations. Ensure compliance with relevant occupational health and safety standards.

Document Management Checklist

Now that you have identified the policies and procedures you want to start with, here is a checklist that should help set you up for success.

Using this checklist, you can effectively manage your HR policies and procedures while ensuring document integrity, accessibility, and compliance. Keep this document as a handy reference to enhance your HR document management and streamline your processes.

Download the Document Management Checklist


We hope this helps in your journey to efficient document management! With HR Partner, document management is a breeze. Our all-in-one HR management system allows you to keep employee records, onboarding documents, leave policies, and more, all in one place! Want to learn how HR Partner can help with your unique business needs? Book a demo.



Amanda Rivera 

HR Knowledge Navigator

HR Document Management: Must Have Policies & Procedures

Category: HR Tools